Archive for the ‘ ~3 to 5 Miles~ ’ Category

Nicholas Farm South – Coventry

  • Nicholas Farm South – Nicholas Farm State Management Area
  • Nicholas Road, Coventry, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°40’50.23″N, 71°46’26.04″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 26, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

This would be my fourth of five planned hikes in the Nicholas Farm Management Area. This 3 mile loop hike follows two dirt roads through and along the southern end of the property as well as part of the North South Trail. We started this hike from the parking area along Nicholas Road. From there we headed west about 1/10 of a mile along Nicholas Road to an intersection. We turned left here, passed a gate, and followed the old dirt road named Greenhouse Road. Along this stretch we saw some stone walls and the first of the towering pines. About 3/10 of a mile we came to a slight obstacle. The road was flooded over by the adjacent pond, is pretty nonetheless, and makes for a good photograph. It was obviously the work of beavers. Staying to the left of the flooded area a trail opens up, later rejoining the road, and detours around the water. It has been dry in the area lately. This could become impassable in wetter weather. We then followed the road to its end, passing another gate, and then turned right onto Newport Road. The gravel road winds in a westerly direction and is flanked by old stone walls. Soon a road joins from the left and the blue blazes of the North South Trail are seen on the trees and nearby boulders as we continued following Newport Road. Just before the Connecticut border, a trail turns right into the woods. The trail is blazed blue still and climbs briefly up a hill. An area to the left is currently being cleared for wildlife restoration. There are signs here explaining the procedure. The trail along this stretch weaves through a canopy of tall trees over a blanket of low shrubs. It is rather picturesque. The trail then exits back to Nicholas Road. Here we turned right and followed the road back to the parking area.

Trail map can be found at: Nicholas Farm South

Pond Overflows Onto The Trail.

Pond Overflows Onto The Trail.

Durfee Hill East – Glocester

  • Durfee Hill East – Durfee Hill Management Area
  • Durfee Hill Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’51.04″N, 71°45’6.19″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 7, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation and some elevation

I stumbled across this area using a hike described in an old Ken Weber book. Unfortunately, times have changed and part of that described route was impassable. On my first attempt a few weeks ago I had come to find out that a section of the hike is now on private property. Today I went back looking for an alternative route that remains on the Durfee Hill Management Area property. Success! The route that I followed is rather less traveled, not blazed, and narrow in areas but it is clearly defined. There is also a slightly challenging stream crossing. It is still easy enough for children though as our group today included three of them (being led mostly by the five year old before he ran out of steam). I would suggest using a GPS device when embarking on this hike in case you miss a turn and need to backtrack. We started from Durfee Hill Road where the North South Trail enters the management area. We followed the North South for a bit before coming to the first split. Here we turned right onto an un-blazed grass and dirt road known as the Wilderness Trail. At the next intersection we continued straight along the road. We soon came to another split. To the right the road continues a bit passing an old cellar hole before coming to private property. You however want to bear to the left here following the rocky trail that climbs uphill. At the next split we stayed to the right. The path narrows quite substantially as it winds up and down some hills. We then soon came to a stream that is wide enough to be a challenge. We took a moment to survey the situation and came up with a plan to literally pass the kids over the stream to each other. We all somehow managed to stay dry. Continuing on, we soon came to another trail that looks like a cart path of some sort. We stayed to the left here and it exited onto Willie Woodhead Road. Turning left and following the road we were soon passing a gun club on the right. The road soon ends and becomes a rocky trail again and begins to climb slightly uphill. At the next intersection we turned left onto the Gray Squirrel Trail which is part of the North South Trail. The remainder of this hike follows the blue blazed North South mostly downhill back to the cars. Along this stretch we saw several birds including a scarlet tanager, a stunningly beautiful bird.

Trail map can be found at: Durfee Hill East.

Along The Wilderness Trail.

Along The Wilderness Trail.

Blackstone River Central – Lincoln/Cumberland

  • Blackstone River Bikeway – Central
  • New River Road, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’5.51″N, 71°28’1.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 20, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Easy.

Starting where we left off a couple weeks ago (Blackstone River North), we continued our walk along the Blackstone River Bikeway. The first mile or so of this walk is along a stretch of the bike path that is flanked by the railroad on the right and the river on the left. Most of it is fenced, but there are occasional trailheads that appear along the left. The Albion Dam soon appears on the river to the left. The water cascades over the dam then ripples downstream under the School Street Bridge. This is a good spot to relax and take in the scene. At the halfway point of this walk we crossed a bridge that spans the river. We were now entering Cumberland and the bike path climbs a small hill. There is some impressive looking ledge at this location. Soon we came to a railroad crossing where the bike path switches sides. Do not walk down the tracks. These are active tracks and occasionally a freight train will come rumbling through. We then continued along the bike path crossing under Interstate 295. About 2/10 of a mile after the interstate a path appears on the right. It leads to the river. Another path follows the river downstream pass the Ashton Dam. This path loops back to the bike path. We then continued south along the bike path crossing under the arched bridge that carries Route 116 over the Blackstone River. We then came to the Ashton Mill complex where we concluded this leg of the Blackstone River walk.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River Central.

The Albion Dam Along The Blackstone River.

The Albion Dam Along The Blackstone River.

Escoheag Hill – West Greenwich

  • Escoheag Hill
  • Hazard Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°37’2.58″N, 71°46’51.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 10, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Moderate with some significant elevation.

In the northwestern part on the Arcadia Wildlife Management is Escoheag Hill. The hill overlooks the valley that the Falls River runs through and once was the home to the Pine Top Ski Area. This hike will take you through the former ski area, over Escoheag Hill, then along part of the Tippecansett Trail, a stop at Stepstone Falls and finally along the base of the hill along the North South Trail. We started this hike from the gate at Hazard Road. The first part of the hike follows a sandy trail that is blazed blue. The open field that we passed through was once the parking lot for the ski area. Today nature has overtaken it with tall grass and shrubs. Following the wide main trail we soon came to a split. The blue blazed trail to the left we would return on. We choose to continue to the right. In a short distance we beared to the left onto a trail that looped back to the right. Ahead of us was one of the former ski slopes on Escoheag Hill. This area is a little confusing, GPS, a good map (I was using the Great Swamp Press map), and a compass couldn’t hurt to have. There are several trails (ski slopes) that lead to the top of the hill. For the most part they converge at the same point at the top. The trails here are also a little overgrown. We then climbed up Escoheag Hill along the former ski slope until we reached the top. Stop a few times along the way to catch your breath and to turn around and see the view. When we reached the top we started looking for the remains of an old shed. Here a pine covered trail leads away from the ski slopes then turns slightly left. This is the main trail then continues over Escoheag Hill. There are several trails that spur off of it, however, you will want to follow the main/widest trail through this area. The trail passes some of the remains of the ski area, as well as stone walls and open fields. The trail also hugs the property line. Several houses can be seen along this stretch. Please do not cross onto their properties. This trail finally comes to Falls River Road. Here we turned left and started following the yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail. The blazes would lead us back into the woods for a while before bringing us out to another road. Continuing following the yellow blazes we soon came to the backpackers campsite. It was once a large shelter for hikers and campers complete with two fireplaces. Today, unfortunately, it was a pile of debris. Sometime over the winter (I was here in October of 2014), it collapsed. Southern New England did endure a rather tough winter and the shelter may have been a victim of it. From here we followed the yellow blazes to the end of the Tippecansett Trail, again at Falls River Road. At this location is one of the most beautiful spots in Rhode Island. We took a rather lengthy break here at the cascading Stepstone Falls and watched (and listened) to the water tumble over the series of short waterfalls. After our break we then began the lest leg of the hike. We started following the blue blazed North South Trail away from the bridge along Falls River Road. The trail soon turns right into the woods and follows the base of Escoheag Hill. This stretch is blazed blue the remainder of the way back to the parking area and several sections are quite muddy. Be careful of your footing along here as it is rather rocky as well. We soon came to the fork where we made our initial right turn. From here we retraced our steps back through the old parking area and out to where the car was parked. This area is open to hunting and orange is required to be worn during hunting season. We also came across snakes, toads, and chipmunks along this hike.

Trail map can be found at: Escoheag Hill.

Spring In Bloom From Escoheag Hill.

Spring In Bloom From Escoheag Hill.

Blackstone River North – Woonsocket/North Smithfield/Lincoln

  • Blackstone River Bikeway – North
  • Davison Avenue, Woonsocket, RI
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’2.26″N, 71°29’54.91″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 6, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Easy.

I’ve decided to walk the Blackstone River Bikeway and take in the sights along the way. I’ve broken it up into three sections, all around 3 miles in length. The route I describe will be a one way route, therefore, if you are not doing a car spot you must double the distance listed. I also decided to start in Woonsocket and work my way south for this walk. Starting from the parking area on Davison Avenue, the bike path first follows an access road to the athletic complex. Soon we were passing a soccer field and then following the bike path that lies between the Blackstone River and the Providence & Worcester railroad tracks. Along the bike path there are mile markers. The distances listed are the miles to Providence. Interesting enough there are mile markers along the railroad as well. The “P” stands for Providence and the “W” stands for Worcester. We came across some ducks and swans in some of the inlets of the river. The trees were in spring bloom and the colors were reminiscence of autumn. Next we came to a granite marker with the names of the three towns that converge here. Soon we were passing under the highway bridge that carries Route 99 over the Blackstone. From under the bridge you can get a sense of how deep the valley is here by how high the bridge is. We then came to an area along the river that had a channel next to it. This is one of the sections of what is left of the Blackstone Canal. The canal was built in the 1820’s to connect Providence and Worcester. It would remain in operation until the late 1840’s. By then the railroad had become the primary means of transportation. Most of the canal today has been filled in or is covered in thick brush. The final highlight of this portion of the walk is the Manville Dam. It was built in 1868 and a few years later a mill was built at this site. The mill at the time was the largest textile mill in the United States. We then continued passing under Manville Hill Road and making our way to the parking lot off of New River Road. A couple weeks later we would continue our walk onto the next section of the bike path.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River North.

Manville Dam.

Manville Dam.

Quonochontaug Beach – Westerly/Charlestown

  • Quonochontaug Barrier Beach Conservation Area
  • Spray Rock Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°19’40.60″N,  71°44’58.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 7, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.4 miles
  • Easy beach walk.

 

In the 20th century, Mother Nature dictated the fate of this beach. Much like Napatree, after the two hurricanes (1938 and 1954) it was decided that rebuilding would not be allowed here. The beach, nearly two miles in length, is a pristine stretch of natural beauty wedged between the village of Weekapaug in Westerly and Quonochontaug in Charlestown. It is a barrier beach that protects a salt pond. The beach and conservation area is in fact privately owned but open to walking. Be sure to follow the rules posted on the signs. I choose the beach today partly for two reasons. First, I would be in the area for a later engagement, and secondly, after weeks of relentless snowfall I wanted to find a place where I could go without snowshoes and get my feet back on the ground. It was a fairly warm day in comparison with a slightly cold breeze, but most importantly, it was a sunny day. I could easily see Block Island to the south. The sand dunes and most of the beach was covered in nearly a foot of snow but the tides had cleared a section to walk along. I parked in the first lot just off of Spray Rock Road and found a marked path to the beach. Then I headed east to breachway. There were only a few others out enjoying the scene here. I came across several cormorants and geese as well as seagulls. After reaching the breachway, I retraced my steps back to the parking area. Parking is very limited here. Therefore, off season visits are probably the best times to come here.

 

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Where Winter Meets Spring.

Where Winter Meets Spring.

Buck Hill – Burrillville

  • Buck Hill Management Area
  • Buck Hill Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°59’6.53″N,  71°47’21.36″W
  • Last Time Hiked: January 18, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation, rocky footing in areas.

Nestled in the northwest corner of Rhode Island just west of Wallum Lake is the Buck Hill Management Area. This vast piece of property, a haven for hunters and hikers, is pure seclusion. At times you are literally miles from any civilization and it is easy to appreciate what nature has to offer here. I was joined by a group of hikers for this stroll on this gray January morning. The temperatures were bearable, however the trails were very icy, slowing our usual pace. We started from the second parking lot where the gate is. From here we headed north along the access road. Soon we came to the first intersection. We continued straight along the access road. The road to the left would be our return route. We soon crossed a small brook before coming to the next fork. The access road veers to the right. At this point we choose to stay to the left and started following the yellow blazed trail. This trail was rather rocky for most of its length. We then came to an opening on the left. Here is a marsh, part of Lesson Brook. Although we saw none this morning, I would imagine this would be a good spot to view water foul. We continued along the yellow blazed trail passing areas of hemlocks and mountain laurel, passing an old fire road, before coming to an area with some stone walls. Here, atop a rather high hill, looks as if there may have been a structure at one time. We then continued along the yellow trail and came to Old Starr Road. The road is very obvious as it is a small valley between the roads embankments and stone walls. From here we turned left, heading west, down the hill. Soon we came to a fork. We followed the road to the left.  From here we followed this road to its end, winding gently uphill for a bit. The road follows the ridge line of Benson Mountain for about a mile. There are several paths off of the main road that lead to several fields along the way. The road then bears left and downhill to its end. Turning right we retraced our steps along the access road back to the parking area. This area is open to hunting and orange must be worn during hunting season.

Trail map can be found at: Buck Hill.

Frozen Marsh At Buck Hill

Frozen Marsh At Buck Hill

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